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"A Crowning Conclusion" Miss Marjoribanks

Page history last edited by Arbaugh 11 years, 3 months ago



"A Crowning Conlusion" Editorial Cartoon. Punch or the London Charivari. 1860.







Browsing the pages of an 1860’s Punch, I stumbled upon a picture of a lion being fitted for his wig by a monkey assistant.  Miss Marjoribanks, who is the main character in Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant, is symbolically represented in this picture in a different light than the light people view her in Carlingford.  Lucilla paints on a nice-girl facade that the members of Carlingford fall for, yet Lucilla’s true self is more similar to that of the lion in this depiction.  To me, lions appear charming and lovable when they are young, but end up looking more fierce when they grow up.  The same holds true for Lucilla.  When she first came to comfort her father at the age of fifteen, her father would not let her stay; she needed to finish her schooling.  Lucilla had to mature and grow into her fierce, determined self, which she was able to accomplish through the study of political economics and traveling abroad.  When Lucilla came back to her father’s estate, Dr. Marjoribanks and Nancy were unexpectedly dethroned, as page thirty-one states.  Lions are expected to be ferocious and fierce, yet the lion in the picture is wearing a wig and a fancy coat, similar to how Miss Marjoribanks portrays herself.  The aggressive lion is presenting himself as less than that, covering up who he truly is.  The wig the lion is fitted for is like the wig Lucilla wears, each strand representing each time she says her infamous line throughout the novel “to be a comfort to dear papa”.  This is a bit exaggerated, yet if those were her true intentions then she would not have to parade around telling people, they would know by her actions. 

Another parallel between the depicted lion and Miss Marjoribanks is the king of the jungle mentality.  Lions are known for being the king of the jungle, and yet the narrator implies that Miss Marjoribanks is trying to do the same.  Page twenty-eight, thirty, and thirty-three mention her as a prime minister, young sovereign, and warrior, respectively.  In addition to those references, Mrs. Chiley says to Lucilla, “I am so glad, my dear, to see you looking so strong (p40)”.  From these descriptions of Miss Marjoribanks, one can image an attractive, strong, but not too aggressive young woman.  Although Lucilla is the daughter of Dr. Marjoribanks, she has a desire to go about the world in a more masculine demeanor.  This also parallels to the idea of Lucilla becoming king of the jungle in Carlingford.  She is not interested in getting married, she has greater plans than that for her life, yet she covers them up by saying that her main goal in life is to be a comfort to her father.  Miss Marjoribanks has a way about her of staying on the top of the food chain per se, like that of a lion.  Dr. Marjoribanks was content with the way his affairs were handled before Lucilla came to “comfort” him.  Lucilla has a way of convincing and manipulating both Dr. Marjoribanks and Nancy into following her orders.  One example is the discussion Lucilla had with her father and Tom Marjoribanks about replacing the carpets, curtains and other furnishings in the drawing room.  According to Lucilla, she needed to update and refresh these furnishings to match her complexion for the evenings she was going to be hosting.  Lucilla was able to convince her father that she would not engage in childish parties, but host elegant evenings with people of high class and style.  After Dr. Marjoribanks thought about this proposal his daughter insisted on, he began to change his mind, and see the furnishing as dingy and needing to be replaced.  This is just one example of how conning Lucilla Marjoribanks is and how she manipulates people for her personal gain.

The third parallel between Miss Marjoribanks and the picture of the lion is the timid monkey that is assisting the lion with his wig.  This timid monkey is similar to the role Nancy the housekeeper takes after Lucilla takes control of the house and her father.  “Nancy was so totally unprepared for this manner of dethronement, that she gave in like her master…The Doctor’s formidable housekeeper conducted her young mistress down-stairs afterwards, and showed her everything with the meekness of a saint.  Lucilla had won a second victory still more exhilarating and satisfactory than the first (p31)”.  Lucilla had conquered not only her father, but also the housekeeper.  After this incident, Nancy was assumed Lucilla’s assistant in her plan “to be a comfort to dear papa”.  Lucilla spoke of how they were two women that needed to manage everything (p31) leading the reader to believe that Lucilla is the king of the jungle/estate, and Nancy was there to assist and help her with her “to be a comfort to dear papa” wig.  This is similar to the timid monkey with its tail wrapped around the post in fear, assisting the lion with his beautiful wig.  Lucilla had to start somewhere to get an army of people to assist her in her endeavors, so she started at home.

The last parallel to be pointed out is the posture and placement of the lion’s hands and feet to Lucilla.  The lion has his legs cross indicating some passiveness to counter his natural aggressiveness, which I see Lucilla do as well.  She speaks of being such a good daughter, yet her actions do not necessarily follow this trend.  Lucilla says she is there to comfort her father, yet is planning all sorts of ways to mingle with and conquer the crème de la crème in Carlingford.  The lion’s hands are hidden beneath a hairdressing garment to protect his underclothing from the hairstyling, yet this symbol of hidden hands, to me suggests a sort of scheming or plotting.  This lion may have some tricks up his sleeves that he does not want exposed, similar to Miss Marjoribanks.  She is plotting and scheming, yet is keeping her plans hidden as not for others to ruin them.  Also, she is keeping her hands out of sight so she cannot be tied to nor blamed for whatever damage may ensue from her secret plans.  Lucilla is more deceptive than a nice daughter, which Carlingford is unaware of at this point in the book (first thirteen chapters).  Miss Marjoribanks is more of a mastermind than a silly little girl who runs off and gets married.  She is not what was expected of women in that period.  The depiction of the lion, his wig, and dress coat is not what people would expect of a lion.






"A Crowning Conclusion." Editorial Cartoon. Punch, or the London Charivari. 10 Nov 1860: 188. Print.

 Oliphant, Margaret. Miss Marjoribanks. London: Penguin Books, 1998. 



Comments (1)

Danae Foreman said

at 11:14 pm on Apr 21, 2009

I really enjoyed your project. You had the most unique picture and I it was very neat how you could find all the comparisons. The picture itself is so funny and syas so many things. You did a great job!

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